Oct 28, 2010

The Query Letter

Posted by AJ Blythe at Thursday, October 28, 2010 6 comments
I've been trying to write a query letter. "Try" being the operative word. How to make my voice and my story shine so a prospective agent wants to read more? It's trickier than I thought it would be. While doing some research on the best way to go about attacking a query, I stumbled upon a sure fire method *grin*...

How To Write A Query in 40 Simple Steps by C.J. Redwine

1. Pour yourself a small glass of gin & tonic.

2. Sip slowly, savoring the taste, as you carefully list your novel's main characters and conflicts.

3. Struggle to label your work with the appropriate genre.

4. Pour more gin and tonic to boost brain power.

5. Craft a first sentence that both grabs the reader's attention and conveys the essence of your novel.

6. Re-read first sentence.

7. Acknowledge that first sentence is absolute horse-s*** and delete the entire thing.

8. Pour more gin and tonic, minus the tonic.

9. Skip first sentence and dive into character descriptions.

10. Re-read character descriptions.

11. Acknowledge that character descriptions cannot be three paragraphs each and delete all but a few sentences.

12. Drain gin bottle.

13. Toss in a few sentences describing the conflict.

14. Re-read sentences describing conflict.

15. Acknowledge that the conflict sounds rather weak.

16. Toss in a conflict that isn't actually in the novel but could be, if the agent asks for a partial.

17. Wander to the kitchen for more gin.

18. Wonder who the hell put that wall in your way.

19. Return to desk.

20. Re-read query.

21. Drink two swallows of gin straight from the bottle.

22. Decide that "I have a fiction novel that totally kicks Nora Robert's sorry ass" is an acceptable first sentence.

23. Study the problem of deciding on a genre.

24. Take a few swallows of gin for fortification.

25. Realize you now see two keyboards on your desk instead of one. Choose which one to use.

26. Type madly for thirty seconds before realizing you are simply banging on your desk.

27. Swallow some gin and choose the other keyboard.

28. Decide that literary-paranormal-romantic-suspense-thriller-with-historical-sci-fi-elements is an acceptable genre for your novel.

29. Re-read query.

30. Insert adverbs generously and prolifically throughout to spice up the prose.

31. Print.

32. Spend five minutes cursing the foul beast of a computer for refusing such a simple request.

33. Turn printer on.

34. Print.

35. Sign name.

36. Realize you've misspelled your name.

37. Curse the gin.

38. Apologize to the gin.

39. Re-print, re-sign, seal in an envelope.

40. Send query.

Oct 25, 2010

My Excuse Monday

Posted by AJ Blythe at Monday, October 25, 2010 0 comments
Poking fun at the but in all of us...

Printed with permission of Sam Morrison.

Oct 21, 2010

Dog-Eared Book Pages

Posted by AJ Blythe at Thursday, October 21, 2010 6 comments
I lent a friend a book recently (the first of a long series). Now, I'm very careful about who I lend my books to. I've been caught out in the past when I've handed out books under the understanding they were being borrowed, but to never see them again. I learnt. I only part with my reading material if I am sure it will be returned. The friend I trusted with my book did return it, she didn't let me down there, BUT my beautiful book came back to me dog-eared. Yes, she'd marked her place by turning the corners of the page down.

What to do? Naturally she wants to borrow the rest of the books in the series (there are 6), but I won't put the rest of my books through that level of pain. Is lending her the books with a pile of bookmarks enough of a hint? I'd love any suggestions you might have!

Oct 18, 2010

My Excuse Monday

Posted by AJ Blythe at Monday, October 18, 2010 0 comments
Poking fun at the but in all of us...

Printed with permission of Sam Morrison.

Oct 14, 2010

A de-caf double half caf... with a twist of lemon

Posted by AJ Blythe at Thursday, October 14, 2010 0 comments
Steve Martin's order for coffee in LA Story (see title of post) has always stuck with me - because as a non-coffee-drinker the language of Barista is as clear to me as Swahili. With a coffee-swilling heroine, I've been frantically doing some research so I don't mix up my Macchiatoes with my Breves. Lucky for me, I stumbled across this wonderful illustration (and interesting blog post) by Lokesh Dhakar.

Now I can talk Barista with the best of them *wink*.

Oct 11, 2010

My Excuse Monday

Posted by AJ Blythe at Monday, October 11, 2010 0 comments
Poking fun at the but in all of us...

Printed with permission of Sam Morrison.

Oct 7, 2010

Bottoms are our natural enemy...

Posted by AJ Blythe at Thursday, October 07, 2010 7 comments
 ... They follow us around our entire lives, right behind us, and constantly growing. How do they do that? I’m sure mine’s back there secretly snacking ~ Steve Moffat, "Coupling"

I've been re-watching episodes of one of my all-time favourite comedies, "Coupling". A BBC production, it aired in the early naughties. The show centres on the dating and sexual adventures and mishaps of six friends in their thirties, often depicting the three women and the three men each talking among themselves about the same events, but in entirely different terms (don't think "Friends", this is far better).

The thing is, at the end of the fourth series, Steve Moffat felt he'd written all there was to tell, and was ready to move onto other things. Trouble is, I wanted to know what happened. Yes, the series finished with the main couple having a baby, so there was an ending. But it wasn't enough, not by a long shot. I wanted to know what happened to all the characters past that point - that they all got their Happy Ever After (HEA).

This reminded me of something someone once said about writing Harlequin romance. You have to make sure the reader is satisfied at the end. Your reader will hopefully have become invested in your characters and will want the satisfaction of knowing it has all worked out. Give them a great HEA. That's why so many Harlequin books have an epilogue, so readers know that years down the track the hero and heroine are living their HEA. Watching "Coupling" has reminded me of that advice - and made it all the more clearer.

Luckily for me, I wasn't the only person who was invested in the characters in "Coupling". So many viewers wanted to know more that Steve Moffat wrote a page summary and posted it on the internet - just like an epilogue. Now I'm satisfied.
Rule one of playing it cool... only smile at her face.

Let me explain, Patrick. Here on earth there is a gap between seeing someone you like and having sex with them, that we like to call conversation.
 
Friendship’s more lasting than love, and more legal than stalking.
 
Well, you know what it’s like at the start, when they’re all fiery-eyed, and eager, and they haven’t seen you naked yet. And it’s like he’s smashing at your door with his mighty battering ram. And he’s promising to ravish you forever. So you brace yourself for man overload, and throw open the doors, and what do you find standing there? An oversized toddler who wants his dinner. And before you can say 'there’s been a terrible mistake', he’s snoring on your sofa, the fridge is full of empty bottles and the whole place smells of feet.
 
I like films with lesbians in them because it’s nice to think there are attractive women out there who can’t find a boyfriend.
 
Always the same with men, isn’t it? Looks like a starter handle, works like an off-switch.
 
You’ve never understood about bottoms, Jane. Having a bottom is like living with the enemy. Not only do they spend their lives slowly inflating, they flirt with men while we’re looking the other way.

Oct 4, 2010

My Excuse Monday

Posted by AJ Blythe at Monday, October 04, 2010 0 comments
Poking fun at the but in all of us...

Printed with permission of Sam Morrison.
 

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